Webcast: Why is China Expelling American Journalists?
Jamil Anderlini on the Deteriorating Media Relationship Between the Two Countries
In mid-March, China expelled 13 American journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. The move came after the U.S. government limited the number of journalists who can work at five Chinese media outlets in the U.S., and amid controversy around members of the Trump administration referring to the coronavirus as “Chinese virus”. The escalation was only the latest step in a widening conflict: For years, many foreign journalists have faced increasingly difficult reporting conditions in China. On April 2, we spoke to Jamil Anderlini, Asia bureau chief of the Financial Times based in Hong Kong, about the latest escalations and what they mean.
Our key takeaways
The expulsions of foreign journalists from China isn't just a problem for the affected news organizations. Jamil argues that reporting from foreign news organizations is actually beneficial to China's top leadership because it provides information and analysis otherwise held up in the bureaucracy.
In the past, foreign news organizations were often allowed to re-build their teams and ground organizations sometime after being expelled. Notably, this was true whether the organization protested loudly or tried to quietly negotiate. While Jamil thinks that this might happen this time as well, he notes that the most recent expulsions were on a scale not seen since 1989.
For the foreign correspondents remaining in China, there is no other way but to continue their work and reporting, Jamil says - limiting themselves to avoid a possible expulsion is simply not an option.
Jamil Anderlini is the Asia Editor of the Financial Times (FT), responsible for all coverage out of Asia. He is based in Hong Kong. Previously, he was Beijing Bureau Chief for the FT, Beijing business correspondent for the South China Morning Post for two years and, before that, chief editor of the China Economic Review. Anderlini has won numerous journalism awards. In 2013, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and short-listed for both Foreign Reporter of the Year at the Press Awards in the UK and the Orwell Prize, the UK's most prestigious prize for political writing. In 2012, Anderlini wrote the e-book The Bo Xilai Scandal, published by Penguin and the FT.